Saturday, June 23, 2012

Birdy, Birdy

Turkey Vultures

The last few days have been pretty birdy for me. Thursday evening the volunteers at the Falls of the Ohio met for a sunset get-together. As the temperatures dropped, it became very pleasant. Of course, I was busy trying convince everyone of the virtues of vultures!  As they soared overhead, two Turkey Vultures gave a demonstration of precision formation flying vulture-style. Those great big wings never run into the next bird.

Kettle of Circling Vultures

Large groups of both Turkey and Black Vultures circled around. Maybe they were hunting for supper, and maybe they were just looking for a good roosting spot for the night. The trees lining the Ohio River at the Falls may host up to 25-30 vultures each for the night. Who needs Motel 6? The guys with good spotting scopes also found a Snowy Egret fishing in the shallow water, while both of our Bald Eagles perched on the dam. My eagle expert friends say you can't see the nest at all now for all the leaves, but earlier they found 2 eaglets, which should be ready to fledge any day now. We'll have to keep an eye out for all dark eagles who don't quite have the knack of flying yet.

Kentucky Warbler

Today we joined the Beckham Bird Club for a trip to Jefferson Memorial Forest. Dick volunteers there all the time, but seldom has an opportunity to go birding. Barbara is especially good at knowing her bird calls, which is important under the forest canopy.  We were delighted with the warblers we saw/heard today, including this little Kentucky Warbler, who finally came out of hiding. The Hooded Warbler was shy and did not leave the bushes to greet us.

Common Yellowthroat

A Common Yellowthroat (another warbler) hopped out to give us the eye when we played his call. Who's that in MY territory? he seemed to be saying. A yellow Pine Warbler lived up to his name, warbling from the pine trees, but too far away for a photo.

Worm-eating Warbler

Most exciting though, was finding two birds to add to my life list. At first I thought this Worm-eating Warbler was a Carolina Wren, since I just got a glimpse of him among the dead leaves where he hunted for, you guessed it, worms. Lots of warblers eat worms and caterpillars. I wonder how this one got stuck with the name? I didn't get a photo myself, and borrowed this one from the Internet. Closer examination (a challenging task given the unceasing activity of this bird) shows that he has lots of stripes on his head. He jumped around our position, calling and searching in the dead leaves for about 5-10 minutes -- a terrific performance for our morning.

Summer Tanager

The triumph for me was actually seeing this Summer Tanager. I've often heard this distinctive picky-tucky-tuck call in the forest, but never could track it down. This one sat in the relative open of a nearby tree, waiting patiently for me to take as many photos as I could. The Birding By Ear CD says this bird sounds like a robin that has taken voice lessons. It's cousin the Scarlet Tanager has black wings, and sings like a robin with a sore throat. The field guide says the Summer Tanager is a more southern bird. Anyway, I've been trying to find one for years, and was delighted to increase my life list today! Keep seeking, and eventually ye shall find!

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Some great pics. I've had some success getting some shy birds to come out and give me the eye too using one of their calls from the Stokes Eastern library.